Reinhardt, C. P., S. Dalhberg, M. A. Tries, R. Marcel and J. A. Leppo. Stable labeled microspheres to measure perfusion: validation of a neutron activation assay technique. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 280:H108-H116, 2001.

Neutron activation is an accurate analytic method in which trace quantities of isotopes of interest in a sample are activated and the emitted radiation is measured with high-resolution detection equipment. This study demonstrates the application of neutron activation for the measurement of myocardial perfusion using stable isotopically labeled microspheres. Stable labeled and standard radiolabeled microspheres (15 mum) were coinjected in an in vivo rabbit model of myocardial ischemia and reperfusion. Radiolabeled microspheres were detected with a standard gamma-well counter, and stable labeled microspheres were detected with a high-resolution Ge detection after neutron activation of the myocardial and reference blood samples. Regional myocardial blood flow was calculated from the deposition of radiolabeled and stable labeled microspheres. Both sets of microspheres gave similar measurements of regional myocardial blood flow over a wide range of flow with a high linear correlation (r = 0.95-0.99). Neutron activation is capable of detecting a single microsphere in an intact myocardial sample while providing simultaneous quantitative measurements of multiple isotope labels. This high sensitivity and capability for measuring perfusion in intact tissue are advantages over other techniques, such as optical detection of microspheres. Neutron activation also can provide an effective method for reducing the production of low-level radioactive waste generated from biomedical research. Further applications of neutron activation offer the potential for measuring other stable labeled compounds, such as fatty acids and growth factors, in conjunction with microsphere measured flow, providing the capability for simultaneous measurement of regional metabolism and perfusion.